Free tonight? I check my watch. 7pm. I am sitting at home. Yes. I am free tonight, I reply. Great, meet you at the usual place? Yes ok, see you there in 20 minutes. And then before long, we’d meet. One of us would be late by ten minutes, the other by half an hour, but regardless of that, we’d meet. And then we would talk, and more friends would suddenly join halfway and it’ll be a crowd before long. Maybe we would go play a game of pool, bowling, kbox if time permits. All with twenty minutes notice.
Nowadays it is different. Free tonight? I am wearing my jeans, and off to somewhere. No, I reply, I have something on that I had planned out since last Saturday, bro. Some other time, perhaps? Oh that’s alright, I’ll just stick around at home, no worries.
But the thing is, I am worried.
I am worried because recently, this has been happening more. Things that then took twenty minutes to decide now take days, and weeks of planning. Concise, sophisticated planning, every minute of our day wrung dry of its value. What used to be a casual question has taken on a whole new meaning. Everytime I hear free tonight? I think of what I have planned, I think of whether I have jam packed my life enough with things to do, people to meet. And when I realise I have, the answer will usually be a clear no, I can’t meet. Why?
Why am I witnessing the death of spontaneity in my life? Is it so hard to do things on a whim? Is it so hard to pack your things and just go?
I see my brother after his track and field training sometimes, and I envy the amount of time he has. He goes to find a pen at Popular, queues up patiently, gets a dessert, battles the long queue, finds a longer route to the bus interchange and casually ambles there, like he has all the time in the world. He misses the bus by seconds and doesn’t even bother to give chase. Was I like that when I was fifteen? Yes, I was. I didn’t even own a mobile phone at that time, and time was aplenty, and I was on the brink of teenage independence. I was not in the rush to spend any of that time.
Back when I was fifteen I was also in track. After training I would take the bus that went by a longer route. I would stop at Chancery Court (opposite ACS Barker) and get a 1 Litre bottle of juice and watch a few buses pass by as I gulped down the contents. Life was simple then. I had no obligation to be anywhere, so if anyone asked me out, I was free. Likewise, if I asked anyone out, I’d get the same reply. No biggie.
What happened? Recently it hasn’t been like that, and looking back, I miss it. Plans are now drawn up like the blueprints of a skyscraper, get these plans messed up, and the skyscraper may just come crashing down. The scaffold that holds my life together will buckle and crush me under it. This isn’t just true for me, I believe we (twenty year-olds like myself) are all moving forward (knowingly or unknowkingly) into a phase of life where we have to be more organised.
Organise your work, studies, family, friends. You’re becoming an adult! You’re on the brink of your lives, you have to absolutely make sure you know what you’re going to do with every minute, every second. You drink beer to destress now, not Coca-Cola! With that privilege comes the responsibility to be hyper organised, if not people around will be upset. The other grown-ups won’t like you to suddenly cancel, or mess up your plans you swore to preserve. Damn. Damn it! What an organised mess we’ve been plunged into.
I don’t think we can ever go back to being the spontaneous and fun loving kids we were in the past. All fun and pleasure is heightened with the element of spontaneity and surprise, and I am sad to say that we’ve either buried this part of ourselves or have placed it on life support. Now we plan our fun, and organise our surprises.
That’s just what it means to grow up, kids. You can’t quite say that this is how you want to turn out, or be assured that you will be this or that in the future. But I guess being organised is our very own way of trying.
Spontaneity. He was a loving friend that brought with him fun, enjoyment and a seemingly unlimited supply of surprises. Rest in peace buddy, you will be dearly missed.